I’ve been working with a couple of new groups over the past few weeks, and a lot of them are wrapped up in the belief that Eat Less and Exercise More is the Royal Road to Weightloss.
And then I see facebook posts saying things like, “I HAVE to stay on track going forward.” “Why are my weaknesses showing up in my refrigerator? I will stay STRONG!” “I need to put on my big girl panties and get in control.”
Ok, I’ll say several things.
First of all, in case you forgot, I don’t think willpower even comes into the equation when we talk about food.
I think the “Eat Less and Exercise More is the Royal Road to Weightloss” is a Toxic Nutritional Belief. It’s old science. If it were going to work, it would have worked by now.
When you say things like, “I just need to get in control.” “I just need to stop making excuses.” It’s dismissive. It’s belittling. It’s like yelling at a crying baby, telling it to control itself.
We need to go deeper. If these surface solutions aren’t working, go deeper. If you keep getting hung up on the same triggers, go deeper. These things are just the entry point; go deeper and see the true wound. Offer a solution there.
I read two quotations recently that pertain to this topic:
… when the King sits on his throne and is the center of the world, “world” becomes defined as that part of reality that is organized and ordered by the King. What is outside the boundaries of his influence is noncreation, chaos, the demonic and non-world. This situation sets the stage for a massive repression and devaluation of the “dark side” of psychic life. It creates a totality that rejects interruption and refuses the other from within its narcissistic enclosure.
– Stanton Marlan, The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness
It is the old king, with five faces: the Conqueror, who treats the self and those around us as enemies to be feared and destroyed; the Orderer, who inflicts a rigid control; the Master of Servants, who demands that we deny our own needs and desires to serve others’ ends; the Censor, who keeps us silent; and the Judge, who offers to restore value to us in exchange for obedience.
– Sue Monk Kidd, Dance of the Dissident Daughter
Somehow it seems easier to reject things we don’t understand and can’t control. That metaphor comes into play not just in relationship with our bodies, but in politics, religion, social change, and a million other areas. Anything we don’t like, we put it over there somewhere, never to see the light. I don’t want to feel shame, fear, anxiety, humiliation, guilt, and any other bad emotion.
The message is: “You’re wrong. Get back in line. And be quiet.”
What if you didn’t?
What if you didn’t reject? What if you picked up that crying baby and held it to you?
What if you invited a new paradigm in? If those five faces (the Conqueror, the Orderer, the Master of Servants, the Censor, and the Judge) are part of the old regime, the old way of doing business, what’s the new way?
How does a good King or Queen act towards him or herself, employees, family, work, sphere of influence, and anything outside the sphere of influence?
My first thought when I read the facebook posts I mentioned is that those people may not need to get smaller, they may need to get bigger.
It takes a big person to be able to embrace all their stuff, to get to know and love themselves and others through all the “negative” stuff rather than summarily rejecting the bad. In fact, I think that people hold on to weight until they _can_ embrace it. The weight is a placeholder for stuff that has not yet been addressed.
My teacher wrote once about being Spiritually Fat.
It’s said that a disciple once asked him, “What is the proper amount of money to give to a beggar?”
The Buddha replied “Two coins. One for food, and one for flowers.”
He knew that a hungry beggar needs more than a meal. Enjoying the beauty of the world and the simple pleasures of existence are as important to our survival as food itself. Gratitude and a sense of abundance, no matter how little we may seem to have, makes us spiritually plump and fulfilled. Perhaps it may even help the body when it comes to how we metabolize our food.
Let’s face it – the Buddha is a bit of a weight loss enigma. He really is a good, wise, timeless, healthy, fat guy. I think he watches over all our silly skinny stuff, and still smiles. I think he knows something. Maybe he knows that being skinny doesn’t guarantee enlightenment, happiness, or inner peace. Maybe he knows that inner peace CAN be had even if one still has 5 more pounds to lose, or 50 more pounds to lose. Maybe he knows that you can still be a popular world famous global icon even if you don’t have the perfect body. Maybe he knows that we’re all lovable no matter what we look like.
Weight can only fall off because it’s no longer needed. It can’t be pushed off, rejected off, or hated off.
That’s the reason I rarely suggest to people to cut out food, especially food that is their “weakness.” I want you to stay in relationship.
The food is not the addictive part. The addiction is surrendering to your primal instincts.
It might even be that it’s a relief to not be in control all the time.
It could be a lot of things, and it’s unspeakably valuable for you to be able to really drop in to how you’re feeling when you turn to food, or running, or work, or distraction. Keep inviting, keep questioning.
Who would you be without the thought, “I have a food addiction”? Who would you be without the thought, “This is bad behavior”?
Can you be big enough to handle that paradigm? Can you be big enough to embrace all parts of yourself, good and bad, light and dark, wanted and unwanted?